Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembrance and Reflection

Family commitments meant that we did not attend the Mass for the war dead at the Beaumont war memorial this year. However the prevalence today of many ceremonies honouring the dead coupled with the further tragic deaths in Afganistan did provide much food for reflection.

I have posted before about the pros and cons of the UK's involvement with the war in Afganistan. That so many more have fallen since then including some seven more British soldiers this week together with many more civilians caused me to reconsider.

The key to my reconsideration lies not so much in the fighting and dying but in the purpose of all those sacrifices. The outcome of the Afgan election process is deeply saddening and my thoughts began to revert to the let the locals get on with it type scenario as the idea that what happens in a far off country will affect UK security in significant way does not ring true.

However the subjugation of the female half the population and many of the ordinary men I still feel transcends political national and parochial issues. What is the point of such grandiose concepts as a universal declaration of human rights if those who have subscribed to them stand back and allow millions of individual humans to be denied virtually any of those alleged rights, simply because they were born female?

On the other hand if local regimes carry on in the same vein even after huge attempts are made involving deaths of many British soldiers, to ensure that such rights prevail, are we not simply wasting time and losing many more lives in so doing?

Last week, events in the law courts made me consider that the soldiers' efforts should continue. Trafigura a British company had been persuaded after dint of court actions to pay £ms in compensation to many ordinary people of the ivory Coats in Africa consequent on Trafigura's alleged (but denied) responsbility for causing major pollution. So far so good but then the local regime appeared to act to prevent the monies reaching the pockets of the ordinary people who had suffered. At that point I wondered if the West's concept of human rights is but a pipe dream if local regimes remain corrupt and power hungry despite the West's involvement. However last week the local courts ruled out the attempt to place power over the Trafigura £ms in the hands of one man's organisation and as the BBC reported:

People danced, cheered and hugged each other as those who'd made it inside the court building gave their verdict

It is early days yet but the outcome so far appears to be that constant pressures for good can bring benefits for the common good. The comparison with Afaganistan only goes so far though as the initial Ivory Coast defendant was anyway a Western company and the pressure was placed on the local power hungry through the courts rather than by guns. Still patience even in the face of murderous adversity may yet pay even in the most hostile of lands. It would begood to see local Afgans dancing in their streets too.


  1. Hello Jerry
    Greetings once again from France. This seasoned international traveller somehow contrived to miss the last train back from Gare du Lyon to Dijon. Luckily, my daughter lives in Paris!
    I like the way you take a situation - the continued Western presence in Afghanistan - and then worry the argument through to a conclusion which is very similar to my own. It's very much a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't, isn't it?
    One of the (legitimate) criticsms of our presence in Afghanistan is that it is not furthering our national interest, and I must say I am not at all convinced by the geopolitical arguments put forward to justify our stay. On the other hand, this very lack of self-interest is in some ways very much to our credit. For once in a while, no-one can accuse us of pursuing some nefarious secret agenda in Afghanistan. I mean, there's no oil there, is there! I think if we ever did manage to help turn Afghanistan into something resembling a democratic state, this would go down as one of our greatest achievements.
    It's a thankless task. The question is, is it also a hopeless one? I agree with my brother when he says that we simply cannot stay on indefinitely. I see that Karzai has given himself five years in which to gain complete control of the country. Five years is about it as far as I'm concerned.

  2. Incidentally, when you write "It would be good to see local Afgans dancing in their streets too", I presume you are referring to the people and not the dogs!


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